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In Memoriam: Stephen Pandula Gawe (1938-2018)

23 July 2018

A few months ago I was privileged to attend the 80th birthday party of an old friend, Stephen Pandula Gawe, and now I have heard the sad new that he died on 18 July 2018, while staying with his daughter and son-in-law Nomtha and Antony Gray in Oxford, England.

I’ve already said most of what I have to say about our friendship when I wrote about his birthday party, so I won’t repeat all of that here. But I will try to say a bit more about his life, a life spend in service of South Africa and its people.

I first met him almost exactly 55 years ago, on 1 July 1963, when we had gone to Modderpoort in the Free State for the 4th annual conference of the Anglican Students Federation of South Africa (ASF). He was then a post-graduate student at the University College of Fort Hare in the Eastern Cape, having majored in English and Political Science. At the conference he was elected vice-president of the ASF.

Stephen Pandula Gawe was born in King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape on 5 January 1938. He was the son of the Revd Walker Stanley Gawe (1900-1980) and his wife Regina Gawe (born Dakada). The Revd Walker Stanley Gawe was an Anglican priest and had been involved in the freedom struggle from an early age. His wife Regina celebrated her 100th birthday in 2005.

Stephen Pandula Gawe, as a student in the 1960s

Stephen’s studies were interrupted in 1964 when he was detained under the 90-day detention clause along with three other Fort Hare students. Eventually he was brought to trial and was sentenced to a year in prison for belonging to the then-banned ANC.

When he was released from prison in 1966 he was offered a bursary to complete his studies at Trinity College, Oxford. While a student there in 1967 he married Tozie Mzamo.

In 1971 he completed a Diploma in Youth and Community work, and for the next 15 years was a youth and community worker for the Oxford City Council and the Hampshire County Council, the latter based in Southampton. At that time their two daughters Nomtha and Vuyo were born.  After completing a Diploma in Adult Education at Nottingham University he became an adult education worker, still for the Hampshire County Council.

During this time he was active in the ANC in the UK as a member of the political committee, and chairing it from 1987.

In 1991 he became that ANC’s chief representative in Italy, and over the next few years also underwent training in diplomacy in France, Belgium, Britain, Norway and Germany. In August 1994 he began working for the Department of Foreign Affairs in Pretoria.

In 1995 he became South Africa’s Ambassador to Norway and on the completion of his term of
duty he became a Director at the Foreign Service Institute of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

In 2000 his wife Tozie died, and in 2001 he was appointed South African Ambassador to Denmark. He later married a colleague in the diplomatic service, and after retiring accompanied her to the South African embassies in Hungary and Chile.





2 Comments leave one →
  1. Nomtha Gray permalink
    23 July 2018 10:12 pm

    Thanks Steve – a nice piece. The only correction of note is that Dad went to Hungary and then Chile with Dudu rather than Ecuador.


  2. Irulan permalink
    31 July 2018 9:10 am

    what do the years 1900 – 1908 refer to?

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